We’ve been having some really long spells of hot weather recently, right up to the last few days when autumn should be gently sneaking in, along with cooler, more mellow days.
During the hot weather I like to keep up the water supply to our various bird baths in our garden. Most of the birds appreciate to fresh water and come for a drink, or a bath and often both. It is not unusual to have a parade of ten or a dozen different species attend the water source in a ten minute period. It can become a busy, noisy airport at times.
When I choose to write or read in our sun room with a good view of several bird baths, I will often have the camera at the ready. The passing procession of birds is a wonderful distraction, but it is times like this that I also get some excellent photos, like those of two White-winged Choughs last week. With the camera on 20x zoom, their bright glowing red eyes take on quite an evil look.
- Time for a bath – a long list of species, both birds and animals, using our bird baths
This post was updated on 20th September 2015.
Yesterday I was asked to drive from Murray Bridge to Pinnaroo via Karoonda in the Murray mallee region of South Australia. A local courier company needed some parcels urgently delivered in the morning and I was available. I used to do relief driving for this company.
I enjoy doing driving jobs like this because it gets me out of my office and away from my computer for some fresh air. It also enables me to look at the birds along the way. After I’d delivered all the parcels I took a leisurely pace on the way home, stopping a number of times to actually get out and stretch my legs and do some birding.
One of the things that impressed me on the outward journey was the number of White-winged Choughs in the region. It seemed that I was seeing a flock every kilometre or so along the way. It is my guess that this species tends to be found along the country roads in this region for several reasons.
- The roadside vegetation allows foraging opportunities for the birds, more so than many of the open farm paddocks nearby.
- The roadside vegetation provides excellent nesting sites in the many trees lining the route.
- The rain run-off from the roads gathers in puddles and gutters long enough for the birds to build their mud nests.
At the point where I stopped for lunch on a dirt side road I found a family of choughs, some of them posing for my camera nicely (see photo above).
Over recent weeks the flock of White-winged Choughs that frequently visit our garden have been largely absent. A few days ago I found out why.
They’ve been nesting somewhere nearby – but far away enough not to attract my attention. Now every time they pass through looking for a feed (and disturbing the Australian Magpies into the bargain) they have several young ones to feed, their begging calls making sure they aren’t forgotten.
We regularly have a family of about 8 – 10 White-winged Choughs in our garden. I can’t really say that they are a resident species, but they do come for a visit almost every day. Sometimes they hang around for an hour or two, digging little holes in the soil or searching under leaf litter for lunch. Sometimes they just fly through on their way next door, or down the road. We are usually aware of their presence; they can be noisy at times.
Yesterday afternoon I was sitting in the sun on the back veranda reading a magazine. Without a warning call, a large flock of White-winged Choughs flew past less than five metres away. They headed over the fence into our neighbour’s garden. I went after them but didn’t have time to grab the camera. Just as well – they didn’t hang around long enough for photos. They created quite a hullabaloo – I’m not sure what the issue was, but as they flew off down the road I managed to count them – at least 28 birds. This is the most I have seen here (from memory).
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This post was updated on November 1st 2016.
The White-winged Choughs I saw in the Australian National Botanic Gardens earlier this year are obviously used to large numbers of people visiting the gardens. They seemed quite at ease with me taking photographs of them from a few metres away.Â They were more intent on finding something to eat.
Choughs spend much of their day on the ground, scratching in the dirt or removing any mulch put there by gardeners. One of them found a buried cone from a tree and there was suddenly a great kerfuffle and they all came running to have a taste of this delicacy.
I didn’t distrub them to have a closer look at the cone, but in the photo it seems to be something like a Hakea seed cone. It could also have been a Banksia seed cone.